Apple has baked in brand-new mouse cursor and trackpad functionality in iPadOS 13.4 software update. It works similarly to how you would use a mouse on a Mac or Windows PC, however, it is also a bit different because of the touch interface of iPadOS. Here is how you can connect and use a mouse with your iPad, and explore its various functions and settings.
Apple had first introduced mouse support in iPadOS 13, as an accessibility feature. It was simply a replacement for touch, and did not work as well as full mouse control would. With iPadOS 13.4, all that has changed. With full mouse support, the iPad can finally be considered a “real computer” by more people.
Connect a mouse with your iPad
Connecting a mouse with your iPad is simple, specially if you have a Bluetooth mouse which works without a dongle. iPad supports wired USB mice (through a dongle), as well as wireless mice.
- To connect a wired mouse, simply plug it into the dongle attached to your iPad and it will start working.
- For a Bluetooth mouse, go to Settings > Bluetooth and pair it with your iPad. Once paired, your mouse will automatically connect to your iPad, as long as it’s powered one.
The same steps apply for a trackpad. If you have a Magic Trackpad by Apple, pair it using Bluetooth settings.
Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, or Logitech’s keyboard with the built-in trackpad for iPad and iPad Air will not require pairing as they work through the smart connector port.
Using a mouse with your iPad
The mouse/trackpad cursor on iPad a is gray circle by default, but it can be customized from settings. You can use it just like you use a mouse on other operating systems, except for one difference. The cursor animates into buttons and other such controls, once you move onto them. Similarly, when you move over an icon in the Dock or on the home screen, the cursor disappears and gives you control over the icon’s movement. Move further and you will see the cursor again. This change might need some getting used to but once you do, it will feel like second nature when using an iPad.
The cursor is smart in other ways too. It automatically turns into an I-beam, when it detects text. The size of the I-beam always matches the size of the text that you are selecting, which makes things easier. To select text, simply click and drag over a word or paragraph. You can then right click to copy it and perform other actions.
Access the Dock
When using a trackpad or mouse, simply move the cursor to the bottom of the screen, and you will see the dock appear. Move the cursor back up, and it will disappear.
Access Home screen
To access the home screen, move the cursor to the bottom of the screen and continue until you see the home screen. Alternatively, you can also click on the white bar at the bottom of the display for quick access.
Access Slide-Over apps
Move the cursor to the right side of the display until you see the slide-over app. To hide the app, move the cursor to the right side of the display again.
You can use the bar at the top or bottom of the slide-over app to move it to either side of the screen, however, to hide or show it, you always have to move the cursor to the right side of the display.
Access App Switcher and Close Apps
Drag the white bar from the bottom of the display up, until you see the app switcher. To close any app, swipe up on your trackpad, or turn the mouse wheel up. You can also close apps from slide-over using this same method.
You can also switch between apps by dragging the white bar left or right, however, it is quicker to switch apps using Command + Tab.
Access Notification Center
Click on the click on the top left of the screen to open the notification center. You can click to open notifications from here, or swipe them away.
You can also move the cursor to the top of the display to open the notification center. To close the notification center, move the cursor to the bottom of the display until it closes.
Access Control Center
Click on the battery icon on the top right of the display to open the control center, or move the cursor to the top right corner until it appears. After changing the controls, you can click anywhere on the screen to close the overlay.
Multitasking works in the same way as you would use it using touch. Make sure to drag the white bars to adjust split windows, or remove them. You can also drag apps from the Dock to switch them in your split view.
Perhaps the best benefit of having mouse support in iPadOS is that context switching works flawlessly when using apps in split view or slide-over. You do not end up in a situation where you clicked somewhere else and typed in another place. Even issues where the keyboard would stop working in slide-over apps seem to be gone, thanks to mouse support.
Mouse Settings on iPad
Apple has added a new section in Settings > General called Trackpad & Mouse. From this screen, you can change the cursor tracking speed, toggle natural scrolling and change the secondary click action on your mouse.
This is not all you can do. Apple has buried more mouse related settings in Accessibility. Pointer Control in Accessibility lets you change the following settings:
- Increase contrast of the pointer
- Automatically hide pointer (this option can also be disabled)
- Pointer color (and its stroke size)
- Pointer size
- Pointer animations (this is the option that allows the cursor to animate into buttons and icons)
Customize Mouse Buttons on iPad
If you have a mouse with multiple buttons, you can change their actions by going to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch > Devices and click on your mouse. From this screen, you can customize the button actions, and also detect and set up additional buttons that iPadOS did not recognize by default.
Note that you would need to enable AssistiveTouch to customize mouse buttons.
For further customization, you can even set up hot corners from the AssistiveTouch screen to perform various actions when you move to a corner on the iPad screen.
Have you started using a mouse with your iPad yet? Share your experience with us in the comments below.